LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - In every community, structure fires are an issue, and firefighters do everything they can think of to get those numbers down.
East Texas News spoke with a Longview fire marshal who said, so far this year, structure fires are down in Longview, although there are still cases under investigation.
Longview Fire Marshal Kevin May was recently going over the city’s structure fire numbers and was a bit surprised to find they were down compared to 2019.
“At this time last year, we ran approximately 35 structure fires, and this year we’re looking at about 27,” May said.
May thinks it could actually be indirectly because of COVID-19.
“I’d like to think that maybe because people have been at home, and they’ve been a little more attentive to what’s going on,” May theorized.
May says about 80 percent of Longview’s fires are:
“Cooking fires, so maybe people haven’t been rushing out of the house to go to work and leaving something on the stove like we tend to see,” May said.
He said so far this year, several fires are being investigated as arson.
“We’ve got a few fires that we’re still working; haven’t determined whether they were accidental or arson, but we do have five arson cases going,” May stated.
May said there are cases at the Gregg County District Attorney’s Office awaiting trial.
“We did have two arrests so far this year. One of them stems from a fire in 2020, and then the other arrest stems from a late 2019 fire,” May said.
The cause of several other fires is undetermined although investigators believe the fire at a laundromat was intentionally set. They have security video from a business across the street.
“We’ve got the Alpine Laundry fire we’re still working. We have a couple of fires on East 80 we’re still working, and then we do have a couple of car fires as well,” May said.
Some fires began inside buildings that had no electricity.
“We do have fires a lot of times when homeless people, vagrants, will go in there, try to stay warm and they start a fire and it gets out of control,” May said.
So there is still plenty for the department to do, but May says it’s good news that in 2019 there were 76 structure fires, which is down from 2018, and this year so far there are even less.
“We usually have somewhere around a hundred structure fires a year. So given those numbers, it’s looking pretty positive that we’ll be on that downward trend this year as well,” May added.
Longview also had one fire fatality in 2020. Autopsy results are still pending in that case.
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